As I am sure you will all recall, last year I dedicated an entire piece of internet to the subject of water in the UAE. We discussed its temperature and that for ten months of the year your boiler sits there as redundantly as the indicator stalk on a Toyota Land Cruiser. I apologise for the graphic image here, but I was sitting on the toilet this morning while being dripped on by the most elusive leak in the whole of human history. I have had nine different plumbers look for it but no one has been able to identify its origin. Water is a precious commodity in the UAE, as it would be in any desert land and recently there has been a lot of discussion about where all the billions of missing gallons have gone.
It would seem that once the sea water has left the desalination plant and has been pumped around the county some of it is going missing. Once you have brushed your teeth, been to the toilet and had your shower, the water is returned and always, it seems, the water man is out of pocket. This, apparently, is a major cause for concern since we do not have Iran’s permission to suck the Gulf dry and those lads really do hold a grudge.
I don’t think that there is much of an argument here. In the height of summer, go outside and pour a bottle of mineral water on the ground and then time how long it takes for the whole two litres to evaporate. I estimate that within 60 seconds your brickwork will be as dry as the Ayatollah’s liquor cabinet.
Evaporation is a constant, and without a ready source of water collection, is an inevitable outcome. How many gallons of water do you think are used each day to water municipal grassland and all the palm trees that run the stretch of the motorways? Once ejected from the spout it seeps through to the roots of the flora and is either utilised or just becomes a pointless mineral in the ground. How is it supposed to get back to Water HQ?
But, it would seem that yet again, UAE Uncuts’ mad penchant for provable science has been dismissed as codswallop and that the concept of evaporation is as fictitious as the land of Narnia. No, apparently there is some menacing water villain bleeding the land dry, and as a result, it is the public that must bear the brunt of legislation.
Now, I am from a country called England, which in turn is part of a very closely knit community called the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, perhaps you have heard of us? Anyway, not only are we famous for our Route Master buses and giving the Middle East lots of failing football teams to buy, but we are also famed for coming up with some very daft rules. We are the only developed country in the world that maintains a hosepipe ban during flash flood season and issues drought warnings in the other flash flood season. We also complain when we willingly buy a house in a flood plain, and complain even more when it floods. I am used to being told off about brushing my teeth with water and not being allowed to wash my car without a jail sentence hanging over my head, so I laugh when water laws are enforced.
But I had to look twice when I read the law about water consumption laws in the UAE. It is perplexing to say the least. It is illegal, and punishable by the courts, to wash your car. Just like in car hating Switzerland.
Thankfully, there is a reason. Apparently the water will run down your driveway and pool up in the gutter. The stagnant water will then “attract insects and diseases such as cholera that will cause death to your neighbours and children.” My God, that sounds awful. It is much worse than Tony Blairs’ feeble drought announcement in 2003 when he said that Trade Union bosses were going thirsty. What a coincidence, then, that you are only allowed to have your car washed at pre-approved washing stations, but are advised to use the state-owned ADNOC or ENOC car washes. I wish I was that smart a businessman.
But there is more. Did you know that it is illegal and also punishable by law to allow the air conditioning unit on your car to leak water drippings? No, I am not making this up. You cannot allow your air conditioner to carry out its designed function of expelling waste water or melted ice.
I agree that water should be looked after and that all leaks should be repaired. But I find it hard to swallow that I could end up in prison for having the air conditioning on in the car when millions of gallons are used each day purely to service the thousands of palm trees that run up the middle of the motorway. If you are hard up for money and want to clean your car, then what do you do if you cannot afford the AED 30 to be lightly sprinkled at ADNOC?
I do not understand why we need to be so careful. It is not like home where we rely on rainfall to fill the reservoirs. Sea water is pretty much in infinite supply. Apparently everyone who drives a car is causing the polar ice caps to melt and as a result the sea level is rising a million feet a day. Surely, then, the Hans Blofeld who lurks in the mountains stealing all the water is only trying to help.
The question is: where is he storing it all? Is it, perhaps, in my bathroom ceiling? Because if Iran wants the Gulf refilled all the Ayatollah has to do is give me a call.